Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lorraine Catherine Messing Kunigisky

My Grandmother, Lorraine
My grandmother, Lorraine Catherine Messing Kunigisky, passed away last week at the age of 89 years. Being her granddaughter was no bed of roses, but I learned a lot from her and have inherited her stubbornness, her sharp sense of humor and her love of creating and nature.

I have just returned from an intense but wonderful journey with my mother to South Beach, Oregon to lay my grandmother to rest and to meet and mourn with my family.

My uncle Dean asked me to hold the "spiritual" space for the family and I gladly obliged. As I was pondering what kind of ritual to do for my Grandmother, this wonderful idea popped into my head.

I went to the craft store and purchased some beautiful, smooth, brown river rocks. I then drew a golden spiral on each one.

After awhile, I had a giant pile of spiraled stones which I brought to the memorial service. I shared with my family and my Grandmother's friends why I chose to draw this spiral on all the stones. I wanted us all to remember that the circle is unbroken (as the old song says) and that even though Lorraine is no longer among the living, her spirit lives on in all of us - not just in our bodies and our blood, but in the stories we tell about her.

We held the memorial service in my Grandmother's house, because that's where she liked best to be and it is filled with her art and her vision of the world.

I learned so much about my Grandmother in that circle. As we sat and shared stories, I learned more about the store she opened in Niagara Falls, NY called Piquant. She sold some wild and beautiful things in that store and sadly, Niagara Falls in the 1960's was not ready for such cool and wild art!

She is also the first person in my life to not be cremated and she actually purchased a burial plot in the Eureka Cemetery in Newport, Oregon.  My mother and I went to her burial place, where the earth was still raw and wet.  It was a very powerful moment for me to look at this "freshly dug" grave and know that my Grandmother's shell of a body was lying just beneath.

Many people took the stones I created home with them, to remember Lorraine by - but those that were left I put on her grave. So the stones that soaked up the power of our circle can now be a part of her grave. 

All in all, a very powerful experience.

And I am so thankful to have re-connected with my cousins, whom I have not seen or talked to since I was about 12 years old.  We are all part Lithuanian on my Grandfather's side. Here is a photo of us all together:

(top row) My Uncle Dean, My Aunt Karen, My Cousin Chris, My Cousin Rich, My Mom
(bottom row) My Aunt Marjorie, My Cousin Trina, Myself and my Nephew Nathan

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